STREETS in Didcot will be named after seven Army bomb disposal experts killed in action after the victims’ families gave their blessing.
Town councillor Tony Harbour suggested the idea last year, after meeting soldiers based at Vauxhall Barracks in Foxhall Road.
Soldiers serving with 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, which has its headquarters at the barracks, welcomed the plan but said it could only go ahead with the approval of all the families.
Now they have given their blessing to the idea and the council has put the names forward to be used for roads in the Great Western Park development. About 3,000 new homes are due to be built at the development, off the A4130, by 2026.
Captain Jayne Reynolds, the adjutant of 11 EOD Regiment, which is part of the Royal Logistic Corps, said: “We have spoken to all the families and they have now given their consent.
“The regiment is totally behind this and if the council has an opening ceremony, we will invite all the families to attend.
“We have a very good relationship with people in the town and it’s fantastic that the town is recognising the base in this way.
“This tribute means a lot to the soldiers here and it’s touching that the council approached us.
“Each soldier’s family came back to us and said ‘this is a fantastic idea’. We have asked that all the streets should be kept together in the same area.”
Teri O’Donnell, the widow of Warrant Officer 2 Gary O’Donnell, said: "It’s so nice to think that years from now people could drive down this road and see the names and be reminded of the heroism and sacrifice these soldiers made for their country.
“We are so proud of Gary and to think his name will be there for all to see is wonderful and I would like to thank the people of Didcot for giving him this honour.
“Ben and Aidan, Gary’s children, are really excited about the road name and I envisage many trips up and down the road in the future.”
Mr Harbour said: “I’m very pleased that the project has come together and will now go ahead.
“I hope the developers can now agree on a suitable area or close where all the names can be kept together.”
Town council leader Margaret Davies said the suggested soldier street names would now be submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council to be ratified, together with a list of trees and birds’ names chosen for other new streets in the development.
She added: “Soldiers from the barracks do such dangerous work, whether in Afghanistan or in other locations.
“Naming streets after these soldiers is a fitting way to remember them.
“I hope the regiment does not suffer any further casualties, but if it does, then we would offer the same tribute.”
Keith Hughes, the chairman of the Didcot branch of the Royal British Legion , added: “These soldiers fought and died for their country and this is a fitting tribute.”
Vauxhall Barracks' fallen soldiers
- Staff Sergeant Chris Muir, 32, of the Royal Logistic Corps, who died in southern Iraq in 2003.
- Warrant Officer 2 Gary O’Donnell, 40, of 11 EOD Regiment, who died in an explosion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in 2008.
- Captain Dan Shepherd, 28, of 11 EOD Regiment, who died in an explosion in Helmand in 2009.
- Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, 30, of 11 EOD Regiment, who died in an explosion in Helmand in 2009
- Captain Dan Read, 31, of 11 EOD Regiment, who died in an explosion in Helmand in 2010.
- Staff Sergeant Brett Linley, 29, of 11 EOD Regiment, who died in an explosion in Helmand in 2010.
- Captain Lisa Head, 29, of 11 EOD Regiment, who was injured in an explosion in Afghanistan and died of her wounds at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, in April 2011.